HAGERMAN, Idaho (KLIX) – For more than two decades the Thousand Springs Festival has been attracting families across the Magic Valley.

Melissa Crane remembers the first time she attended the event. It was 1993, soon after she moved to south-central Idaho. She’s been involved with it in one way or another ever since – either as a patron or now as one of the organizers.

“I have loved it all these years,” she said in an interview with News Radio 1310.

Crane is the marketing and sales director with the Magic Valley Arts Council, and she and her team are keeping busy as they gear up for another fun-filled weekend.

The 26th Annual Thousand Springs Festival of the Arts is scheduled for Sept. 22-23 at Ritter Island.

“I’m excited,” says Melissa Crane, one of the event organizers. “I’m happy we are growing artist participation and expanding opportunities for musicians to play.”

The family-oriented event features activities for kids, art displays, wagon rides, food and live entertainment, among other activities.

Photo by ©MarjorieMcBride.com, courtesy of MVAC
Photo by ©MarjorieMcBride.com/courtesy of Magic Valley Arts Council

For a while the event was held at Malad Gorge State Park, but the Arts Council took over the event in 2016 and brought it back to Ritter Island.

While much of what visitors will experience at the festival will be similar to years past, organizers try to think differently about it every year. For instance, last year organizers tried something new: they had live bands play near the entrance to welcome visitors to the festival. It turned out well, Crane said, and this year a welcome stage and sound system for local bands will be set up near the admissions gate.

That’ll make two stages for entertainment, she said, because the main stage also will have live music that will feature new and returning bands.

Crane said the festival is growing. Last year, for instance, 90 artists and musicians were at the festival, and this year there’ll be more than 100 artists and musicians.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I’m happy we are growing artist participation and expanding opportunities for musicians to play.”

One thing she hopes to see improved at future festivals is the number of activities for kids. That’s still a work in progress, she said, but noting it’s an agenda item for next time. Still, this year there’ll be face and rock painting and a few other activities for the young ones.

A couple of other activities visitors may enjoy: canoe rides offered by Idaho Guide Service, and the Idaho Draft Horse Association will be there for wagon rides.

Photo by ©MarjorieMcBride.com/courtesy of Magic Valley Arts Council
Photo by ©MarjorieMcBride.com/courtesy of Magic Valley Arts Council

Crane said about 4,000 people attended the festival last year and she expects about that many again this year. Parking is planned at the top of the grade to Ritter Island, with bus service provided into the canyon. Handicap parking will be available in the canyon for those who need it.

To see ticket prices, event times and directions to Ritter Island, visit the Thousand Springs Festival online.

Another thing Crane is excited about is the location.

“It’s just a really fun opportunity for families to get out and spend the day in that incredibly majestic setting. And,” she said, noting that she’s been checking on Mother Nature’s plans for that weekend, “I’m glad the weather looks like it’s going be good.”

She added: “It’ll be a fun day. Be prepared for fun, fun and good food and art.”

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